A few weeks ago Christ Church Knoxville had a team in Uganda serving the missionary base “Youth Ablaze”. They spent time ministering to the teams there and sharing the Gospel with the local peoples. What a joy it was to hear all that the Lord has done when they returned!
We have been posting testimonies from different team members featuring their personal experiences from Uganda. These posts will be here on the Fully Alive Website for Abby and Lauren, since they focused on the women’s ministry, and on the Christ Church Website for the men who served on the trip as well.
Here is Lauren’s testimony from her time with the team in Uganda:
The Rock on Which I Stand
When we arrived to the church in Tororo, Uganda, I was exceptionally comforted by a banner that hung over the stage that read, “Jesus Christ is the same…”. Despite the differences in an unfamiliar culture and location, I was deeply ministered to by this simple yet powerful truth that stretches across the globe and all circumstances. Little did I know, this truth would penetrate my heart in unthinkable ways over the next several days. Many people told me that I would never be the same after going to Africa for the first time, and they are correct. But this is for no other reason than I was encountered by the living God while I was there—through the proclamation of His powerful, fixed word; the prayer and worship of His people; and the rending of my heart unto repentance and turning to see the beauty and sufficiency of Jesus. Despite my seemingly extroverted tendencies, since I can remember I have struggled with great fear and anxiety. For weeks up until and for most of the trip itself, these struggles became extremely intense, even to the point of despair at times. This was a huge internal battle coupled with the other things that made our days slightly more uncomfortable and unfamiliar, such as loosing our luggage for a few days, sickness, and jet lag. Oh but how wonderful and faithful is our Lord to work everything together for the good of those who love Him. He graciously used every one of these pressures to humble me, casting me at His feet in repentance with nothing to offer Him in myself, and call on His name. And He was so faithful to hear my cry and wash me with His living word. My eyes were opened in a new way to the sufficiency, power, and surety of God’s word as I heard my brothers speak this truth throughout the course of the trip.
As I was brought to my knees, by the mercy of The Lord, this was not only unto my own heart being freed by seeing Christ, but for the sake of His name being glorified among the nations. As we were all exhorted to see and consider the sufficiency of Christ and His word throughout the week, this was (rightly) the only foundation which Abby and I had to stand on as we unexpectedly prepared to minister to a beautiful group of women on the last day of the seminar. What a marked moment this process was! The night before, The Lord met us as we cried out for Him to come in our preparation and ministry time. At this point, The Lord began to really open His word, give clarity, peace, joy, and strength, and he moved faithfully and powerfully among us all on that day as we sat outside under the tree. By His grace, He truly strengthened and ministered to all of our hearts as we were faithful to proclaim His word to mothers in the faith. We had no clue how joint ministry time would weave together, but it was done beautifully and led solely by the Holy Spirit. I had never been so confident in the power, sufficiency, ability, and clarity of God’s word until that day. I am so thankful that the encouragement and exhortation brought by my sister and brothers that week was able to propel me to follow Him there. His word truly spoke life into me from places that were dead! By His grace, I was not bound or hindered by my feelings or emotions, but clung to and proclaimed the true word of God that He has revealed through His son. This is our bread which gives life! It was awesome to watch the way the Holy Spirit continued His ministry as the women began speaking the word to one another and to us in response. And how glorious, loving, and true The Lord displayed Himself to be as we were able fellowship with the women, rejoicing in the spoken truth and praying with one another.
As I have reflected on the trip, I am taken back and deeply encouraged as I remember the day we hiked to the top of Tororo Rock with the Youth Ablaze students. Of note, that was the day I got sick. Throughout the day and night, as I went to bed early, this was when The Lord really began tenderizing my heart and drawing me to repentance and trusting Him in some significant areas in my life. So on that day, when we reached the top of the rock and shared the beautiful, panoramic display of God’s glory in the African country and sky, we joined hands with one another and prayed. We then turned to every side of that rock and prayed with one another over the nations, and came back together to worship The Lord together. This was a moment that The Lord sobered me, as I looked up and saw people who are joyfully laying down their lives for the gospel of Jesus Christ, though it could mean their own blood. I saw a people who were reflecting something about Christ that I became hungry to know—that He is worthy and He is ALIVE. And the truth and reality of this good news must be shared unto the glory and praise of His great name! I shook one of my brother’s hands as we began to hike back down the rock, and was overcome with this truth and began weeping. I did not quite understand what happened that day, or the shift that occurred in my heart over the trip. But now I can look and see that The Lord very sweetly marked a place on earth that testifies to what He has done. On Tororo Rock, He planted my feet on the Rock of Jesus Christ, and called me to join Him on His mission.
By the mercy of God I left Africa transformed, hungry for more of His word and more in love with Jesus than when I arrived. As I have come back to America, I am even more comforted by the truth displayed on the banner I saw in the church, that “Jesus Christ is the same…”. I rejoice that by the mercy and sure foundation of God’s word, nothing can thwart His purposes or undo what He has done through Christ (Isaiah 14:27; 43:10-13). When our eyes are graciously opened to see that the word of God is true and sure, and we view it through the centrality of the cross of Jesus Christ—the living word, the truth of the gospel happens to us. It comes more of a reality to our hearts, and fixes our feet on the immovable Rock Himself. Our hearts become steadfast as we trust in the love and mercy of God, displayed on the cross of Jesus Christ. Indeed, His truth sets the heart free to love God and His people and to lay our lives down in worship, weak and broken as they are, for Christ. Oh what a glorious truth, what a sure foundation. What a steadfast anchor of the soul that we can cling to with confidence. Oh, what a Savior!